Names beginning with “Mc” or “Mac” are incredibly common, but selling food using some variation on either of these could result in a cease-and-desist demand from McDonald’s. Now one Irish burger chain is challenging McDonald’s ability to claim a trademark on every Mc/Mac eatery everywhere.
The Irish Times reports that Supermac’s — a Galway-based chain of around 100 restaurants — has accused McDonald’s of trademark bullying in its attempts to prevent the smaller chain from expanding into Europe.
Supermac’s owner Pat McDonagh asked the EU’s Intellectual Property Office to cancel McDonald’s trademark for “Big Mac,” accusing the fast food giant of trying to squeeze out any possible competition from other businesses.
The request comes months after the European Union rejected Supermac’s application to use its brand outside of Ireland at the behest of McDonald’s.
The Golden Arches had contended that allowing Supermac to expand would cause confusion for customers when it came to the chain’s Big Mac and McNugget items, GrubStreet reports.
McDonagh says the fast food giant has gone as far as trademarking a number of unrelated names — including McKids, McHome, and McNoodle — in order to prevent competition.
“McDonald’s has literally registered the McWorld,” McDonagh tells The Irish Times. “It is trying to make sure that every word in the English language belongs to them if there is prefix Mc or Mac put in front of it.”
The Golden Arches have been involved in a number of controversial trademark claims over the years. Twenty years ago, McDonald’s went after a one-location English eatery called McMunchies, drawing the ire of the Lord Godfrey James McDonald, head of the Scottish Macdonald clan.
Another high-profile McD’s trademark dispute involved the McDonald’s Family Restaurant in Fairbury, IL, which opened in 1956, only months after McDonald’s Corp. founder Ray Kroc opened his first franchise a few hours north in Des Plaines. After decades of threatening legal action, the Golden Arches finally acted against the family-owned restaurant in 1992. The matter was eventually settled in 1996, and McDonald’s Family is still around, with founders’ son Ronald McDonald (not the clown) still working the grill.
Other, non-McDonald’s trademark spats we’ve covered:
• April 2017 — Mars. Inc sued a Wisconsin chocolate company called CocaVaa claiming the business’ name could confuse and deceive consumers into thinking it was Mars’ CocoaVia.
• Sept. 2016 — East Coast chain Tasty Burger sent a cease-and-desist letter to Chipotle over its trademark for the company’s new burger venture, Tasty Made.
• Feb. 2015 — Red Bull tried to block a brewer from trademarking “Old Ox” simply because they both involve bovines.
• June 2014 — Hersey’s sued a marijuana edibles company that once used packaging that riffed on popular candies.
• Jan. 2014 — Lagunitas dropped a trademark lawsuit that accused Sierra Nevada of using “IPA” in a beer able that too closely resembled the label on Lagunitas’ flagship beer.